A new Pan Pasifika community centre in central Hamilton is a step closer after Hamilton City Council agreed to lease part of Hinemoa Park to the K'aute Pasifika Trust, despite missing out on Provincial Growth Funding.
The Hamilton-based charitable trust plans to create a $10.6 million multi-purpose community hub on the land, beginning with refurbishment of a former bowling clubhouse on the site.
The council also agreed to grant the trust a 30-year lease on 0.8ha of Hinemoa Park land to build the hub.
K'aute Pasifika had applied for $8m from the Provincial Growth Fund as part of the Government's Covid-19 recovery package. However, it was told last week the application was unsuccessful. The trust still has sufficient funds to refurbish the clubhouse building and 80 per cent of the funding for the education and learning centre.
K'aute Pasifika had an underwrite arrangement in place for the shortfall but was confident it could raise the remaining 20 per cent itself and also secure funds for the final stage of the hub, a $4.8m community fale planned to open in August 2022.
Councillors were in full support for the Pan Pasifika Hub, with councillor Mark Bunting saying while the rejected funding was a kick in the guts, the council would be able to work more closely with K'aute Pasifika to complete the site.
"I saw K'aute as something just for Pasifika people, but the more I embed myself in the process the more I get to see Hamilton through the Pasifika lens and see what life is like and see our own community through a different lens," Mr Bunting said.
"This is about seeing our future community through a different lens and I would encourage others to see down that path."
Deputy mayor Geoff Taylor said he remembered that he originally wanted a sports park on the Hinemoa bowling site, but had been won over by K'aute Pasifika.
"I thought this was pushed through somewhat hastily and I had another vision for the site. I'm happy to say I have been won over in recent years by the vision and I am excited by the proposal," Taylor said.
"We do want this to work, I understand that raising funds is not easy but we know how important this is for the Pasifika community, so let's not be obstructive and let's do everything we can to support the vision."
Councillor Ewan Wilson said he was excited from the minute he heard of the project. However, he said the council was smart to add a shorter review period for the project to ensure work is being done prudently for ratepayers.
"I can see how it reflected the value and aspirations of New Zealand and Hamilton, how it engaged with all parts of the community," Wilson said.
"I say to K'aute Pasifika, you have done a incredible job and do not be disappointed that Covid-19 has come along and made things more difficult. We understand how, suddenly, we can have aspirations for funding that does not materialise, but we are patient but I believe that in 12 months' time the horizon will look different."
Councillor Dave Macpherson said the Western Town Belt had enough sports facilities and it was time for community facilities.
"K'aute Pasifika does work that otherwise would have to be done by local and central government organisations and we get away very cheaply by just providing land here," Macpherson said.
"I think this will be a great centre for this community and a great icon for our own community when it is eventually finished."
The trust will use the refurbished clubhouse to offer health and wellbeing services to the community and it plans to have this facility up and running by next August. It expects to open the education and learning centre in December 2021.
Three years in the making, the Pan Pasifika hub project will be a first for New Zealand and is aimed at creating a place of healing, learning and support for all community members who wish to access its services.
The hub is also intended to breathe life into a large part of the city's West Town Belt – a 54ha network of parks and gully on the fringe of central Hamilton.